The postal service has characterized the move as a business decision, a way to save money for an already ailing agency. But downtown business owners worry about what it will mean for the city’s core.
Don Blaske considers the post office, which is about a block away from his Naturally Healthy pet food store on Northeast Fifth Avenue, a landmark. He and other businesses use the post office as a reference point for customers trying to find them. And it builds community having the service in Camas’ heart, he said.
Blaske uses the post office almost daily, mailing letters, bills and products for his business a short walk away. The proposed move would put the post office about a mile away.
“I’d probably go once a week,” Blaske said.
Plenty of downtown merchants are disappointed to see the post office leave the city’s core, said Brent Erickson, executive director of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce. The service reliably brings traffic to the area, and provides a boost for downtown, he said. Given ongoing economic struggles, downtown Camas doesn’t need another hit when it already has several hollow storefronts, he said.
“You’re losing a major part of the downtown that draws a lot of people,” Erickson said of the post office, later adding: “You hate to see anything go that takes away from the walking traffic downtown.”
The move came close to happening last year, when Will Macia reached a tentative agreement to buy the building. The president of the Vancouver-based Last U.S. Bag Company had planned to use the space for his business.
Macia, who lives in Camas, said he loves the building’s charm and location and hoped to move in. But the company uses large embroidery equipment that simply couldn’t fit in the space the way it was needed, he said. The business was forced to back out of the potential deal.
“We had a square peg, and we couldn’t get it into a round hole,” Macia said.
Until the latest possible deal closes, the Camas Post Office remains in limbo. A “For Sale” sign still stands in front of the building that’s been a post office since 1938, according to Anderson.
Some Camas residents hold their own ideas for what the location should be, if not a post office. They’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.